Age in Korea is very important. Far more important than it is in Europe or the USA. Often the first question that people ask is ‘How old are you?’ Age is important not just for things like whether you are old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol, but for a whole variety of social interactions in Korea.
People use different language when speaking to people of a different age. They expect people to act differently, with younger people expected to pour drinks, or older people expected to pay for things. Even the way you refer to your friends is based on their age; if they are a year older than you, they might be your 누나 (noona) or 언니 (eonni), if they are younger, they will be your 동생 (dongsaeng).
With all this importance put on age, answering the question ‘How old are you?’ is very important. But the answer to the question might not be as simple as you think it is.